Application Deadline: Friday 30 April 2021, midnight BST


The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation, building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age. This will be achieved through:

  • Talent and diversity

We’ll grow talent by training, supporting, mentoring and funding the most talented and creative researchers, innovators and leaders from across the engineering profession – to help over 7,500 professionals to enhance their leadership skills. We’ll develop skills for the future by identifying the challenges of an ever-changing world and developing the skills and ideas we need to build a resilient and diverse engineering profession. We’ve set ourselves a target to work with over 500 engineering businesses and organisations to champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

  • Innovation

We’ll drive innovation by investing in some of the UK’s most creative and exciting engineering ideas and businesses. In partnership with industry, entrepreneurs and academia, we’re on course to support the growth of more than 500 companies through our Enterprise Hub. We’ll build global partnerships that bring the world’s best engineers from industry, entrepreneurship and academia together to address the greatest global challenges of our age. As a leading voice in engineering and technology, we’re working to build networks and partnerships in over 40 countries, across six continents.

  • Policy and engagement

We’ll influence policy through the National Engineering Policy Centre – providing independent and expert guidance to the government, drawing on the expertise and creativity of over 450,000 engineers. In our 2020-25 strategy we’ve committed to working with over 1,000 policymakers in the UK and internationally to improve people’s lives. We’ll engage the public by opening their eyes to the wonders of engineering and inspiring young people to become the next generation of engineers. Through campaigns like This is Engineering, we’re changing perceptions of the profession and by 2025, we’ll have helped a million young people – from every background in the UK – to explore a career in engineering.

Each year, up to 16 shortlisted African innovators receive a unique package of support over seven months to help them accelerate their businesses. The benefits of selection include comprehensive and tailored business training, sector-specific engineering mentoring, communications support, pitching opportunities and access to the Academy’s network of high profile, experienced engineers and business experts in the UK and across Africa. Tailored training and mentoring culminate in a showcase event where a winner is selected to receive £25,000 along with three runners-up, who are each awarded £10,000

Since the start of the Africa Prize seven years ago, the Academy has supported 102 businesses from 16 countries through the programme. In our seventh year, the Africa Prize is supporting 6 female and 10 male entrepreneurs from 9 different countries through our first ever fully digital training programme. This year, the Africa Prize is funded by The Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund



Applicants must have developed, or be in the process of developing a new technological innovation. Applicants should have the ambition to take a leading role in creating a new business to commercialise this innovation. 

Innovations must: 

  • aim to promote the welfare and economic development of a country or countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • be designed to address a development need or specific challenge facing that country. For the programme, the definition of sub-Saharan Africa includes all countries defined by the African Union within Central, East, Southern, and West Africa.

The application must be written in English. 

  • The lead applicant must be over the age of 18 when applications close on 20 July 2021. There is no upper age limit. 
  • Applicants can apply as an individual or as part of a team. 
  • The lead applicant must be a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa. For teams of two or more, the lead applicant (the person participating in training) must be a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • The lead applicant must be ordinarily based in sub-Saharan Africa; if based overseas, this must be temporary for studies or otherwise. 
  • The innovation must be based in a country in sub-Saharan Africa 
  • The lead applicant must have an engineering innovation, although they are not required to be an engineering graduate or student to apply. 
  • The lead applicant must provide a letter of support from a university, research institution, innovation hub or previous incubator programme. This can be as simple as stating that an individual studied at or was involved with that institution. If applicants are not affiliated with any organisation, another document proving the status of their organisation or innovation, such as a document of incorporation or patent certificate, may be used. 
  • Industrial researchers and establishments are not eligible. 
  • The innovation can be any new product, technology or service, based on research in engineering defined in its broadest sense to encompass a wide range of fields. This includes but is not limited to agricultural technology, biotechnology, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, design engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, ICT, materials science, mechanical engineering, and medical engineering. If you doubt that your area of expertise would be considered engineering, please contact the Academy to discuss your application. 
  • The innovation must be at technology readiness level 3 or above. Evidence of a prototype should be provided in the application.
  • The lead applicant must provide a letter of consent from the originators/collaborators of the IP to this innovation, where relevant. 
  • The lead applicant must provide a technical diagram and photo that showcases the technical aspects of the innovation as part of their application. 
  • Applicants should have developed, and be in the early stages of commercialising, an engineering innovation that: 
  • will bring social and/or environmental benefits to a country/countries in sub-Saharan Africa 
  • has strong potential to be replicated and scaled-up 
  • is accompanied by an ambitious but realistic business plan that has strong commercial viability.


Click Here to Apply